Master Gardener Spring Sales--Mostly Tomatoes

  36 scans 082 copy

Master Gardeners will be holding spring markets in three Bay Area counties in April. As reported in my SF Chronicle Column of April 5, they will be as follows:

San Mateo/San Francisco Master Gardeners will hold two sales. The first is on April 11, 9-1, at Redwood High School, 1968 Old County Road, Redwood City. The second is April 18th, 10-2, at Central Park in San Mateo, and is part of an open house at the park on that day. For more information: 2015 San Mateo/SF Spring Garden Market Information

Marin County Master Gardeners are having two sales on the same day, April 18th, both 9:30-12. One is at the Bon Air Shopping Center, 50 Bon Air Ctr., Greenbrae, the other is at the Pini Market, 1535 S. Novato Blvd, Nave Shopping Center, Novato..For more information: 2015 Marin County Tomato Market Information

Santa Clara Master Gardeners are having their sale on April 11, 9-2 at History San Jose, 1650 Senter Road, San Jose..:For more information: 2015 Santa Clara Spring Market Garden Information

All of the sales include tomato plants galore and Master Gardeners on hand to answer questions and the  April 11th sales in Redwood City and in San Jose include other kinds of seedlings and garden talks, and  a "green elephant" sales.

Each of the Master Gardener Organizations have prepared lists of the tomato varieties they will be selling, with information on the qualities of each variety. Here are links to the three 2015 tomato variety lists:

2015 San Francisco/San Mateo Tomato List

2015 Marin County Tomato Varieties

2015 Santa Clara County Tomato List




San Bruno Mountain Plant Sale--Mission Blue Nursery

Mark your calendar on Saturday February 21st, 2015 to visit Mission Blue Nursery at 3401 Bayshore Blvd., in Brisbane, for a native plant sale to benefit San Bruno Mountain Watch. You can learn more about the sale, and about San Bruno Mountain, at Indeed, as the link address implies, you can access a list of plants that will be offered for sale. There is also a link to driving directions to the nursery. (Brisbane is just south of SF on the Bay side of the Peninsula, nestled into the base of San Bruno Mountain on its east side.)

This is an opportunity to shop at a nursery that is usually only open to the public by appointment and with a $100 minimum. All proceeds from the February 21st sale will benefit San Bruno Mountain Watch, an organization that works to protect the mountain.

Bring boxes to carry plants that you select. You can pay with cash, check or credit card.

San Bruno Mountain is a San Mateo County Park that offers wonderful hikes. There are fine Bay and City views and a wealth of native plants to see as you walk. These hikes are especially enjoyable in spring, when so many of our native flowers are in bloom.



Fall Plant Sale--Master Gardeners of San Mateo/San Francisco

Coming soon is the fall plant sale of the Master Gardeners of San Mateo and San Francisco. Here is their announcement:

Please join us for our Fall Plant Sale on Saturday, September 20th from 9:00AM to 1:00PM.
We are offering an exciting array of vegetables, succulents, perennials, edible flowers, cover crop seeds and a wonderful choice of garlic seed and shallots perfect for your Fall Garden!
Vegetables Varieties
Beets_Chioggia, Bull’s Blood, Golden, and Shiraz
CabbageAll Seasons, and January King
Broccoli_Quartina, Di Ciccio, Romanesco, Piricicaba, and Solstice
Peas_Maestro, and Alderman Pole Peas
Spinach_Giant Winter, Monnopa Low Acid, Monster of Viroflay
Lettuce_Outstanding Red Romaine, Bronze Arrow Looseleaf, and Arctic King Butterhead
Chard_Fordhook Giant, Rainbow Mix, and Perpetual Spinach Chard
Kale_Vates Blue Curled, Lacinato (Dinosaur), Dwarf Green Curled, Portuguese, and Russian Red
Bunching Onion_White Spear
Endive_Frisee Fine Cut
Mustard_Red Giant
Artichoke Seed Garlic_Inchelium Red                                     
Rocambole Seed Garlic_Killarney Red
Porcelian Seed Garlic_Magic
Shallots_Dutch Red
Succulents and Perennials…too many to list
Cover Crop Seeds
Our sale location is 2645 South El Camino Real San Mateo, CA 94403. Parking is limited so please park off-site.
Let us help you get your FALL GARDEN off to a good start.

April 14th Plant Sale will Have Late Blight Resistant Tomatoes

I just learned that the San Mateo/San Francisco Master Gardeners will offer three late blight resistant tomato varieties at their spring tomato and pepper plant sale on Saturday April 14th, 9:00am-1:00pm, rain or shine.

The sale will be held at the Elks Lodge, 229 West 20th Avenue, San Mateo. They will have 'Defiant PhR', 'Mountain Magic', and 'Golden Sweet' and will also have lots of other tomato and pepper varieties, starts of popular herbs, and gently used gardening books.Go early for the best selection of blight resistant tomatoes.

I know if you live in SF, it's a slog. If you don't ordinarily drive, it may be worth carpooling down or renting a carshare for a chance at some tomatoes that stand a chance against late blight.Parking for the sale is free.

For more information about the sale, call 650-726-9059 Ext. 107, Mon & Thurs, 9:30am-4:30pm or go

Spring Gardening Classes

It’s December, with the holidays approaching, but it's not too soon to begin to think about gardening classes for spring. The spring City College Vegetable and Herb classes have been cut, due a serious budget shortfall (more of the squeeze higher education is suffering). However, there are many options for classes.

                One class that will last all spring, giving you a chance to follow the season in a garden is the Urban Gardening School that will be co-sponsored by the Garden for the Environment (7th Avenue and Lawton) and 18 Reasons (3674 18th St.) It will take place from January 18th to June 23, on the one Wednesday and one Saturday each month. There will be twelve sessions total. In order to learn more about the class, you can call 18 Reasons at 568-2710, or you read about it and purchase tickets at

                In addition to this longer class, the Garden for the Environment continues to host short workshops (2-2 1/2 hours). Many of these are free. You can find out their schedule by calling them at ccc-cccc or at their web site, which is .

                Another place you can find gardening workshops in San Francisco is Sloat Garden Center, at 2700 Sloat Blvd,

                The Urban Farmer Store hosts classes for professionals on drip irrigation, garden lighting, and related topics, but they also offer some classes for home gardeners, especially in the spring and summer. Right now they are collecting applicants for a pilot SF program to help you install a graywater system. It includes a workshop and a steep discount on material to build your system. You can read about it at or call the Urban Farmer Store at (415) 661-2204.

Hear of any other classes? Let me know.

Some Links for Seed School Class 1 August 20, 2011

Growing plants from seed is fun and saves money. I have written about saving and growing seed in both of my regional books Golden Gate Gardening & Wildly Successful Plants: Northern California. The first covers seeds of vegetables and herbs, the second covers many common California garden flowers.

Because Seed School at the Garden For the Environment in San Francisco ( starts tomorrow, I am putting a few links on this blog. The first class is on saving seed, so these are links that will be particularly helpful on that subject.

Here is a link to a series of articles by Tom Clothier, on every topic you can imagine relating to saving and starting seeds from Botany for Seedsavers and Genetics for Seedsavers to conditions for growing many kinds of seeds and dealing with damping off (decay) in seedlings.

I also found his template for folding a seed packet that needs not tape or glue, for those times when you need to enclose some seeds when you are "in the field" with no access to other containers.

To find many wonderful printable templates for making paper seed packets when you have more time and materials, do a Google search for "seed packets" with "template". Here is one example of some of the pretty templates you will find with such a search:

The following link is to native plant seed collection guidelines of the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden. It covers getting permits for collecting on public land, keeping records, guidelines for amount of seed to take, and other important information for those who are thinking of doing this.

Another link of use to those who are interested in native plants is that to the Presidio Native Plant Nursery. They grow native plants for restoration projects and welcome volunteers. Much of what they do is starting plants and tending them as they grow, but they also sometimes involve volunteers in wild seed collecting and cleaning. They welcome volunteers 1-4 on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

 Finally, here is a google search engine that has been set up to deal with all aspects of saving, obtaining, or growing seeds:

Hope to see you in Seed School. In the first class, I will cover the basics of seedsaving, and then we will clean some seeds I've saved and I will advise on ones you may have saved or plan to save.

(If you missed the class and would like to see it repeated, send me a comment and we will see if we can do it again.)


A Film Opening (I think I'm In It)

The San Francisco premier of Antonio Roman-Alcala's film Search of Good Food will be this week at the Recology Company Headquarters, 900 7th Street, near Townsend and Berry Streets. It's an exporation of where our food comes from. Antonio interviewed me for the film, about the history of food movements in the Bay Area, and assures me that he left some of the interview in the final cut.

The film will be part of a double feature, with The Greenhorns, which is about organic farmers who are just starting to farm.

The event is free, though donations are gladly accepted. On both Thursday, May 19th and Friday, May 20, the event begins at 6, with "food and hanging out." In Search of Good Food will be shown at 7, followed by filmmaker discussion, and then The Greenhorns at 8. 

Food, beverages, and popcorn courtesy of Bi-Rite Market.

You can read more about Roman-Alcala's film at


Garden Photo Class About to Begin

Sample garden shots--David 004 at 72

Only a week left before a new garden photography class will begin at UC Berkeley Extension in San Francisco. Taught by Horticultural Photographer David Goldberg, who shot the images in Wildly Successful Plants, this class will definitely help you improve your shots of flowers and gardens. It consists of 10 classes, 4 of which will be practice shoots in private or public gardens. (One shoot will be in the newly restored gardens of Alcatraz, where students will be allowed into some garden areas off limits to the public. Ferry fare will be waived for the class.)

This class will meet 10 times, from March 19th through May 21. Sessions in the classroom will be taught at the South of Market Extension Building, on Third Street near SF MOMA, with validated off-street parking.

This class is a steal when you compare the price of one-day or half-day shoots offered at other venues. Register soon to assure space.

You read the course description on the extension website, and you can enroll online.

To see more photos by the instructor, go to To ask the instructor questions, you can email him at


Master Gardener Garden Tour June 26th, 2010


Thought you'd like to know about an upcoming garden tour and plant sale that the SF and San Mateo Master Gardeners are having. I have seen one garden on this tour and photos of another. Lots of food gardening in those two gardens. One has chickens, the other has nice native plant landscaping. Should be a great tour, and there will be workshops led by Master Gardeners too! I will be in Scott's Valley on that day, giving a talk at a Garden Fair, so I can't go, but it sounds wonderful. Check it out.

Educational Garden Tour

Explore several stunning Woodside estates that inspire with their creativity, beauty, and sustainability. In each garden, Master Gardeners will lead educational mini-seminars on container gardening, caring for oaks, composting, year-round vegetable gardening, keeping chickens, growing natives, and more.

Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 the day of the tour. For details or to buy tickets, visit or call (650)738-0208.

Proceeds benefit the UCCE Master Gardeners of San Mateo & San Francisco Counties, providing home gardeners with free garden and pest information to promote sustainable gardening.

"How-To Night" Next Wednesday

You may have noticed that I am doing a "How-To Night" on Wednesday, April 14th (see calendar in previous post). Perhaps you wondered what that could mean.

Here's the scoop. There's a popular San Francisco monthly event called "Ask a Scientist" at a South of Market restaurant. People go to eat and then listen to a scientist explain something. Well, the same person who began that series, Juliana Gallin, has now begun a second series, called "How To Night" at the Bazaar Cafe, 5927 California Street (at 21st Ave.) in San Francisco. (She says that this is the cafe that originally hosted the "Ask a Scientist" series.)

The event is free, though making an evening of it by ordering something to eat or drink is encouraged. You can learn more about the cafe at their web-site: or by calling them at 415-831-5620. You can read the short history of the How-To series at (She is looking for more people who might like to teach some skill in a classor who have a request for a class to teach something.)

So come on over next Wednesday night and let me help you get started growing vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers in San Francisco's cool (cold?) and foggy summers--and through the rest of the year too! I will bring the new Golden Gate Gardening to sell and will be happy to autograph copies.

Meanwhile, in the garden, it goes on being spring. I have been shooting my tree peony, which didn't bloom last year, and has only one flower this year--but what a flower! When I was a child we had a long row of regular peonies between our front yard and that of the neighbors. They bloomed in late May. One of the most beautiful of flowers, I think.

San Francisco doesn't get enough winter chill for regular peonies, but it does for tree peonies!So here are the teasers (the opening bud).


2010 March 001 copy
2010 March 008 copy
More next week when it's fully open. Also, my potatoes are up, and I will shoot them before and after I fill in the trenches around them.